Pinot Grigio: History And Food Pairings


If there is one wine that has earned an unsavory reputation, it is Pinot Grigio, hands down. Called boring, a girlies drink, insipid watered-down drool, and many others. To cut the story short, not everyone likes Pinot Grigio.

Fortunately, pinot grigio has bounced back. No longer do people feel embarrassed about ordering it. It is now the second most popular white wine in America today, thanks to the discovery of the many health benefits of white wine.

Let’s take a closer look at this popular, and not just somebody’s guilty pleasure, white wine, the Pinot Grigio.

What is Pinot Grigio?

Pinot Grigio (pronounced pee noh GREE joe) is an Italian white wine bursting at the seams with fruity flavors. It is a dry wine with high levels of acidity and a flavor profile consisting of apple, pear, lemon, lime, and honeysuckle. It also has the mineral flavors of citrus, almonds, spices, and saline.

It’s also known as Pinot Gris (peeh noh gree) from the Alsace region of France. When produced in regions other than France and Italy, the name vintners use depends on the style—Alsatian or Italian. Although the same grape is used in making these wines, there are differences in taste and aroma. Pinot Grigio is lighter and more citrusy while the Pinot Gris has a sweeter and richer taste of tropical fruits.

Pinot Grigio has a pale yellow color similar to straw with some gold hues thrown in the mix. It has silky overtones that leave a clean feeling on the palate. There are three main types of the wine and these are Minerally & Dry (Italian), Fruity & Dry (French), and Fruity & Sweet (Alsatian).

Short History of Pinot Grigio

It would be easy to assume that Pinot Grigio originated from Italy, but history tells us that it is originally from Burgundy, France. In the Middle Ages, it was known as Fromenteau. From Burgundy, it spread to Switzerland in the 1300s along with Pinot Noir.

Pinot Grigio was born when Pinot Gris made its way from Switzerland to the northern parts of Italy. The regions of Lombardy, Veneto, Friuli, Trentino, and Alto Adige has seen it rise to become the country’s most popular white wine. The wine producer Santa Margherita was the first-ever company to vinify the pink grapes into white wine.

Even with its rock-star status in Italy, Pinot Grigio didn’t take off in the US until the late 1970s. Thanks to Tony Terlato, the fate of the wine started to change. Terlato earned the title “Father of Pinot Grigio” for introducing Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio to America in 1979.

Today, the wine is manufactured in regions all around the globe. From Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Austria, and a large number of regions in the US. California and Oregon as two of the states that produce the most cases of the wine. In 2016, Pinot Grigio is the fifth highest-selling wine in the US market. The once scorned white wine has indeed come a long way.

Is Pinot Grigio Vegan?

Wine production involves the process of fining. It is part of the clarification, stabilization, and cleansing process of the wine. Fining agents sometimes include animal byproducts such as isinglass, egg whites, gelatin, and more. But there are also fining agents that are vegan-friendly and these are bentonite clay, carbon, limestone, silica gel, and vegetable plaques.

Unfortunately, labeling wine bottles to include vegan-friendliness is yet to become a norm. With the surge in the numbers of people going vegan, this may be something that we’ll see in the coming future. But for now, the only thing we can do to enjoy our lifestyle with a good bottle of Pinot Grigio is to do some research.

The internet is a good source to know which Pinot Grigio wines are suitable for vegans. So instead of trying to read the labels or looking up the manufacturer, you need to get yourself a list of the best vegan Pinot Grigio out there. Barnivoreis the top guide when searching for vegan-friendly wines.

Where Does It Grow Best?

Pinot Grigio is a white wine grape variety from the Pinot family of grapes. A mutation of the Pinot Noir grapes, Pinot Gris is a pink-skinned variety that has flavors and aromas that vary from region to region. Originally from Burgundy, it is now significantly grown in the Alsace region of France where the best-quality wines come from.

In Italy, Pinot Grigio has a leaner body style than those grown in the French regions. Those grown in other parts of Europe and the New World: the US, Australia, New Zealand, all have a fuller body and richer texture. The bottom line for these wine-growing regions is the sunny but cooler climates.

It is known that the finest Pinot Gris wines have low acidity and high levels of sugar. These come from the cooler regions while those coming from warmer climates tend to have less acidity and structure. Vineyards from the German regions of Baden and Pfalz produce differing levels of sweetness.

But if you’re looking for the sweetest and having the most intense flavor, choose Pinot Gris from the Alsace region. Wines coming from Oregon, the Washington state, and California produce some of the best Pinot Grigio wines in the US because of the fertile soil and favorable climates.

5 Famous Pinot Grigio Names

Here are the top 5 Pinot Grigio wines that are very much suitable for the vegan lifestyle:

Little Black Dress 

A beautiful combination of Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Muscat, and Viognier, this wine has all the good aromas of citrus, apples, and pears. It is light, crisp, and clean with the zest of tangerine and lemongrass.

Kris Delle Venezie DOC

The perfect refreshment for a hot summer’s day, Kris refreshes like a lemonade, but better! With aromas of acacia flowers, tangerine, lemon, citrus, and hints of almonds and apricots. 

Ziobaffa Pinot Grigio 2018

Full-bodied with the flavor of apples, gooseberries, lychees, pineapples, and many other citrus fruits. It has hints of pears, lemons, and aromas of a bouquet.

Sta. Maria 

With a fragrant and floral aroma, this Pinot Grigio leaves your mouth with a clean and crisp feeling that’s refreshing. It has the vibrant flavors of melons, pears, and honey.

Pinot Grigio Blush Still Rosè

Rose wine with a pink color and an elegant taste. It has the right amount of acidity that leaves a refreshing aftertaste. It has the aroma and taste of peaches and apricots.

The Best Food Pairings

Ideal for meals taken in the summer months, Pinot Grigio is also a great wine to pair with a wide variety of food. Shellfish, scallops, and fish will taste great as this wine has a refreshing and cleansing effect on the palate. Pasta dishes are also wonderful when paired with this wine as well as fresh herbs and vegetable dishes.

The wine generally has high acidity levels so try to avoid pairing it with acidic food such as dishes with tomatoes or other citrus fruits. While the wine is highly recommended with seafood dishes, it can also be nicely paired with different types of food. Since the wine has a soft and casual style, it tends to be outdone by the flavors of rich and spicy food.

  • Seafood such as white fish, oysters (fried or raw), scallops and many others go well with this wine. The strong flavors of garlic, oregano, ginger, thyme, black and white pepper make for a good meal paired with this wine.
  • Chicken dishes go well with Pinot Grigio especially when you use light cream or lemon-based sauces.
  • Cheeses are also recommended food to pair with this wine. Gruyere, Muenster, and Manchego are some of the best examples.

As long as you steer clear from hot and spicy food, you’re always guaranteed a superb meal with Pinot Grigio. But then again, to each his own. Buon appetito!

Summer Thatcher
Summer Thatcher
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